Every one in the yelling, pushing crowd seemed to be trying to get hold
of the aeroplane. But again the policemen forced the spectators back
and Bud saw, even before he alighted, and a good deal to his disgust,
that Mr. Dare seemed to be in charge of the situation. As the young
aviator climbed from the frame, the professional and President Elder
“Young man,” said the former, in a very superior tone, “you’re in luck
to be alive. Haven’t you any sense?”
Bud looked him over. The man was about thirty-five years old, rather
nattily dressed in grey clothes, a blue scarf and a chauffeur’s cap.
Two or three sharp replies occurred to Bud, but he suppressed them, and
turned to Mr. Elder. The latter walked into the tent, and motioned to
Bud to follow. Then the boy suddenly realized that the fair president
was trembling with anger.
“Bud,” he began at once, trying to be calm, “didn’t I tell you what
to do? Didn’t I give you your program? Wasn’t you to fly three times
around the track and then come down?”
“And you don’t like it because I varied it a little? Because I gave ’em
a good run for their money?”
Mr. Elder shook his finger before the boy’s face.
“Mr. Dare tells me it was one chance in a thousand that you didn’t
smash the machine.”
“Didn’t worry about my breaking my neck at the same time, did he?”
asked Bud with a smile.
“We risked two thousand dollars’ worth of property in your possession,
and you took every chance you could with it–”
“Including the risk of my own life,” retorted Bud. “Look here, Mr.
Elder, I wouldn’t get excited over what T. Glenn Dare thinks. He has
good reason to find fault with me.”
The fair official made a new gesture of impatience.
“That’s neither here nor there. Going up that way was a crazy thing to
do, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Bud looked at the ground a moment. Then he said:
“That’s my usual luck, Mr. Elder. I don’t make any excuses. I see I’m
in the wrong, and I’ll take the short cut out. I haven’t hurt your
airship, and there she is. Mr. T. Glenn Dare is here ready to take
charge of it. I thank you for the chance you gave me.”
Bud started away.
“Here, Bud! Come here!”
Bud paused, but he did not return. “I guess we don’t need you any more,
but there ain’t no call to go ’way mad.”
“You said I ought to be ashamed of myself. I’m going where I can feel
ashamed without attracting attention.”
Bud smiled, and Mr. Elder looked a little embarrassed.
“I reckon if your fifty-dollar-a-day man had gone up there and done
what I did, you’d all be pattin’ him on the back. Like as not there’d
be a piece in the paper about it.”
Mr. Elder was even more embarrassed.
“When he goes up to-morrow,” went on Bud, “I reckon you’d better insist
that he skim around over the ground. I tell you what I think, Mr.
Elder,” said Bud, suddenly growing more serious, “a big bluff goes a
long ways. You wouldn’t dare to criticise your professional aviator.
Why? Because he’s an expert. And yet there isn’t one of you knows
whether he knows more about aeroplanes than I do. He’ll get the glad
hand. I get a good swift kick. Good bye.”
Mr. Elder was at Bud’s side before he could leave the shed.
“You certainly are a touchy boy,” he said in a not unkind voice. “I
don’t see why I should apologize to you,” he added, “but I’d like to do
one thing–here’s ten dollars for helping us out.”
Bud looked up with a peculiar expression. Never before in his life had
he earned so much money in practically one day. For a moment, he worked
his foot back and forth in the dust. Then he said:
“That just proves what I said. It’s the bluff that gets the money and
the praise. I told you I’d do what I could for nothing. I’m satisfied
if you are. But, if I took any pay, why shouldn’t I have as much as
Mr. Elder grew red in the face.
“He is to get fifty dollars a day. What can he do that I haven’t done?
I’m much obliged to you, Mr. Elder, and I don’t want you to put me down
as a smart aleck. I either work for nothing or I’m worth as much as the
fellow who is no better.”
The disturbed official became restless.
“You mean you want fifty dollars?” he exclaimed, almost in consternation.
“I should say not,” retorted Bud, “but,” and he laughed outright, “if
you offer me anything, don’t make it a cent less.”
Before the perplexed official could say anything, Bud was gone. The
crowd was in a thick ring around the aeroplane, and the boy had no
trouble in making his way almost unobserved out of the race-track
field. With ten cents in his pocket and tired and sleepy, he hurried
toward the entrance. No one seemed to recognize in him the “hero of the
aeroplane,” the skilled and daring aviator who had just made a record
breaking flight of 1400 feet in the air.
Money came too hard with Bud to permit him to spend his ten cents for
a ride to town in a hack. For that reason, although it was not yet
much after four o’clock, he set out on foot to cover the two-mile
walk to his home–or Attorney Cyrus Stockwell’s house. This was
not a pretentious building, but, being on the edge of town, it had
considerable ground around it, and the old two-story frame structure
had been Bud’s home for nearly ten years.
Bud’s father had at one time owned a small foundry in Scottsville; but,
his health failing, he disposed of it, moved to the country, and tried
farming on a small scale. Mrs. Wilson was a cousin of Mrs. Stockwell’s,
and when both Bud’s parents died the same winter, the boy, at Mrs.
Stockwell’s suggestion, went to live with the Stockwells. There he had
been ever since.
Reaching the house, Bud found it locked tight as wax. Undoubtedly the
lawyer and his wife had gone to the fair. The key, usually hidden under
the strip of rag carpet on the front porch, was not there. But this
did not interfere much with Bud. In the rear was a summer kitchen with
an adjoining grape arbor. On this arbor, Bud had more than once made
nocturnal ascents and descents to and from the kitchen roof, and thus
to the window of his own room.
Shinning up the arbor, he easily entered the house through the window
of his room. It was dark and close within, but the returned wanderer
was hungry and he hurried at once to the kitchen. Mrs. Stockwell did
not mind Bud “piecing,” but she was particular about the neatness of
her kitchen. So, instead of leaving traces of his attack on the larder,
Bud used no dishes. He found milk in the ice box. A dipperful of that
was consumed, and the dipper washed and returned to its hook.
Then with a slice of cold boiled ham, the back, two wings and the neck
of some fried chicken, six doughnuts, two pieces of bread covered with
new grape jelly, and an apple, Bud went to his room. Long before his
foster parents returned from the fair, Bud, his hunger satisfied, had
undressed, washed himself and gone to bed.
About seven o’clock, Attorney Stockwell, who had been reading the local
paper on the front porch, stuck his head into the kitchen and asked if
supper would soon be ready.
“I kind o’ been waitin’ thinkin’ maybe Bud’d come home this evening,”
was Mrs. Stockwell’s answer.
“You don’t need to count on him, I reckon,” answered her husband. “He
probably won’t think much about home long as that airship is on his
“It’s funny to me,” added Mrs. Stockwell, stirring the potatoes, “that
he wouldn’t take no pay. Goodness knows he could use it. The boy ain’t
got hardly a whole shirt to his back.”
“He’ll have to be doin’ something soon,” said the attorney. “I can’t
keep him here for nothin’ all his life. An’ he’s nearly grown now.”
His wife sighed:
“He’s been a purty good boy at that. An’ he’s been quite a help to me.
I dunno how I’d get along without him.”
“Well, you better not wait for him. He’s gettin’ altogether too smart.
If he’s too proud to take the money he earned, I ain’t. President Elder
gave it to me to hold for him, _in trust_, but I guess Bud owes me a
good deal more’n that.”
The Stockwells ate their supper without Bud, although there was enough
talk about him. That evening the lawyer made inquiries in the boy’s
usual haunts, but no one had seen him since the aeroplane landed. So
the evening passed until nine o’clock, at which hour Attorney Stockwell
was summoned by telephone to come at once to Mr. Elder’s private office
in the First National Bank. Here he found a hastily called conference
of fair directors. The president was there with Judge Pennington and
Mr. Waldron, a country member.
“Here it is in a nutshell,” explained President Elder. “We either call
this fellow’s bluff, or let him ‘play horse’ with us. What’ll it be?”
The situation was this: Mr. T. Glenn Dare, the aeroplane expert, gave
as a reason for his failure to appear that he had not expected to
reach Scottsville until noon of the previous day. The work of setting
up the airship, he explained, would have required but a few hours.
The reason for his non-arrival at noon of the day before was because
he had gone to Scottsville, Kentucky, a small and out-of-the-way
place requiring a drive across country, and having no telephone or
telegraph. Returning to Cincinnati, he had “wired” the fair officials,
after telegraphing east to his employers for instructions, and had
then hastened to Scottsville, making the last stage of his journey by
This explanation was not satisfactory to Mr. Elder. Mr. Dare confessed
he had not seen any letters to his firm from the fair officials, and
had started west with only a memorandum of his destination. He would
not concede that his firm had made a mistake, and boldly asserted that
the mix up was probably due to carelessness on the part of the fair
“All right,” Mr. Elder had said. “You say you were in Cincinnati early
to-day. Why didn’t you send us word you’d be here? No telegram reached
any of us.”
“How do I know that?” impudently asked Mr. Dare. “Looks to me as if you
people were trying to beat me out of a job.”
“And it looks to me, to speak right out,” replied Mr. Elder in
considerable heat, “as if you might have been drunk for two or three
Instead of indignantly resenting this suggestion, Mr. Dare only got
red in the face and offered to produce innumerable affidavits that he
had been wandering around the country since Monday morning looking for
Scottsville and that he never indulged in intoxicating beverages.
This interview between Mr. Elder and Expert Dare had taken place on the
fair-grounds just after Bud disappeared and the car had been housed
for the night. It left anything but cordial relations between the two
men. But the explosion came later. As Mr. Elder was instructing the
watchmen concerning the care of the airship during the night, Mr. Dare
“In order that we have no further misunderstanding, I’d like to have a
check for one hundred and fifty dollars–the three days I’ve already
The president, put out over his encounter with Bud, and disgruntled
over the conduct of the expert, whirled like a wild man.
“A check for one hundred and fifty dollars?”
“You don’t suppose I’m coming all the way out here for fun, do you?”
sneeringly answered Mr. Dare.
“Just put this in your pipe and smoke it,” snorted the fair president,
shaking his finger in the expert’s face. “You’ll get paid when you go
to work–that’s the contract. There wasn’t a thing said about comin’
or goin’. For the three days left this week, we’ll pay you just fifty
dollars each day. Not a cent more.”
“That aeroplane won’t move a foot till I get my money. And since this
controversy about it, you’d better pay in advance–three hundred
dollars. No money, no exhibition.”
“We got along without you so far.”
“Violating your contract, yes. Part of the agreement of sale was that I
was to operate the car. We don’t turn out aeroplanes to every Tom, Dick
and Harry. Under your contract, that car don’t go up unless I’m in it,
and I don’ go in it till I have my money. There’s plenty of law to fix
that. Do I get my money?”
“Not a cent,” snapped Mr. Elder. “Bud Wilson will go up in that machine